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Covid-19 killers: 4 murders linked to lockdowns

A gavel on a surgical face mask

Covid-19 may have been a once-in-a-generation shock that put the brakes on society, but it certainly didn’t bring crime to a halt. Indeed, the pandemic and its restrictions triggered several shocking murders and was even used as a cover by some particularly heinous killers.

1. David Anthony

It was back in March 2020, just as the world was adjusting to the strange and scary new reality of Covid, that the family of Florida woman Gretchen Anthony started receiving worrying texts from the 51-year-old.

‘Good morning. Tested positive for coronavirus early this morning,’ the first one began, with further messages saying that her condition was progressively worsening and that she had been checked into a local facility run by the Centers for Disease Control. The problem was, no such facility existed. And Gretchen’s family was alarmed by the fact that at no point had she actually called to let them know what was happening.

The grisly truth only emerged when police obtained footage from CCTV cameras in Gretchen’s home. It showed an eerie figure lurking in the shadows outside the house, ready to pounce on the unsuspecting victim. The man was Gretchen’s husband, David Anthony, with whom she’d become estranged.

A 6ft7 gym instructor, Anthony had stabbed Gretchen to death, audaciously buried her behind a Walmart and then used the fake Covid texts to buy himself time to escape. Following a manhunt across six states, he was apprehended a week later and handed 38 years in prison.

2. Daniel Briceno Garcia

Living in Stockwell, south London with his landlords and several others, 46-year-old Daniel Briceno Garcia was known to be a surly, moody presence around the house. Things only worsened when the first lockdown commenced in March 2020, with the housemates noticing that Garcia had ‘become concerned, if not paranoid, about the risk that Covid was going to pose’.

As the prosecuting barrister later said: ‘That in itself you may think is understandable. It is quite another thing to react to the risks which Covid posed with the use of a knife.’

That’s exactly what Garcia did in April when he rounded on his live-in landlords with a blade. He first stabbed 60-year-old Edgar Daza to death, then savagely attacked 66-year-old Sonia Calvi.

Telling the other housemates to stay in their rooms, Garcia then called the police himself. They arrived at a scene of bewildering horror, with the victims lying in their own blood. As for Garcia, his true motivations couldn’t be fathomed, and it’s unclear just how much of a trigger the lockdown actually was. He pleaded not guilty, claiming he had been hearing voices and was mentally ill. However, he was convicted of murder and sent down for at least 33 years.

3. Wayne Couzens

The most notorious Covid-enabled crime to take place in the UK was undoubtedly the March 2021 killing of 33-year-old Sarah Everard by serving Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens. What made this case so egregious – beyond the blunt facts of a woman being picked out on a busy street to be raped and murdered – was that Couzens had taken advantage of the lockdown guidelines to falsely arrest Sarah and abduct her.

As a former boyfriend of Sarah’s later said, she was ‘intelligent, savvy and streetwise’ and would not have stepped into Couzens’ car if she hadn’t believed it to be a genuine arrest. Couzens, who’d previously worked Covid patrols, knew exactly what to say to Sarah to make it look like she was being legitimately taken in for violating lockdown rules.

The brazen weaponization of his status as a police officer, and the lengthy and cold-blooded planning that had gone into the attack, led the crime to be compared to a terrorist attack. Unsurprisingly, 48-year-old Couzens was given a whole-life order, meaning he will never leave prison.

4. Tony Thomas

One of the most bizarre killings connected to Covid took place in March 2021, just weeks after Sarah Everard’s murder. This was when Tony Thomas from Minffordd, Wales, stomped his father, Dafydd Thomas, to death in a row over pigs.

Tony Thomas, who has been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, believed that he was part of a global scientific fightback against Covid, and that his knowledge was sought by Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty. Moreover, Thomas claimed he could see Covid with his naked eye, and that research involving his pigs was vital to finding a cure for the disease.

On hearing that his 65-year-old father had purchased a new shipment of pigs for the land, Thomas was so furious about the possible impact on his ‘research’ pigs that a ‘fuse blew’ in his head. He brutally dragged his father to the ground and stamped down on him hard enough to inflict catastrophic injuries. He later claimed that the attack had not been fatal, and that someone else must have turned up to inflict the lethal blows.

This explanation was not accepted in court. In early 2023, the deeply troubled 46-year-old Thomas was sentenced to be treated at a secure hospital indefinitely – a mark of how dangerous the judge believed him to be.